Man convicted in 2014 abduction plot that led to 2 killings

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A New York City man has been convicted in an abduction plot that led to the deaths of two brothers whose bound bodies were found in a Philadelphia river eight years ago.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that 36-year-old Jason Rivera shook his head as the foreperson of a federal court jury that deliberated for more than six hours announced the guilty verdicts Tuesday on counts including conspiracy, kidnapping and extortion.

“This is crazy,” Rivera muttered as his attorney motioned to him to stay silent while the judge dismissed court following the verdict, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison, the Inquirer reported.

The Queens resident was one of six men charged in what authorities described as a plot that led to the August 2014 deaths of Vu “Kevin” Huynh, 31, and his 28-year-old brother Viet over a $300,000 drug debt.

Authorities said the brothers were kidnapped and tortured before they were driven to the Schuylkill River, stabbed repeatedly, their faces covered with duct tape and their legs weighted down with cement before they were tossed into the water. A third man was able to escape and flag down a passing motorist.

Defense attorney Thomas Mirigliano argued that his client has been wrongfully accused and noted that no cellphone records link him to the area on the night of the crime. He objected to prosecutors pointing to a forearm tattoo of a line from the 1990 movie “Goodfellas” as evidence of his client’s role as a drug gang enforcer and debt collector.

Last year, Lam Trieu pleaded guilty to extortion, drug and conspiracy counts, acknowledging having reached out to a longtime associate to collect on a debt owed to a California marijuana supplier from drugs fronted to the brothers. He wasn’t charged with the kidnapping or murders.

Tam Minh Le, 52, a native of Vietnam, has been sentenced to death in the case. Two other men await sentencing on federal charges in the case.

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